Tag Archives: lo culture

John Stewart: satirist, demogogue-pundit, champ of funny-over-loud, staging Rally to Restore Sanity. Dude, that’s so meta!

The other day I watched a panel moderated by The Daily Show’s John Stewart on C-SPAN‘s coverage of Book Expo America (featuring cultural heavyweights Condoleezza Rice, John Grisham, and the very funny Mary Roach). After each had a chance to discuss recent projects and otherwise pontificate, Stewart opened the floor to questions. Dispersing the sleep-mist of the “any advice for aspiring author’s” line of questions  (which appeared to exasperate the panel), one savvy attendee asked Stewart “What are you going to do with your leadership of this new generation?”

His response (at about the 1:00:00 mark) was about what I expected. Do? Do? Why would John Stewart — satirist extraordinaire — feel compelled to actually do anything? Then, like many in the “Busy Majority” I was delighted and intrigued at Stewart’s announcement of the Rally to Restore Sanity.

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I mean, I’m a fan. I’ve been watching TDS nuevo-religiously for months (like breakfast, DVR’d so… actually with breakfast… er… after I watch the real news, of course) and classico-religiously (Christmas, Easter, weddings and so forth) for years. Admittedly, I assumed the show would lose momentum after the Bush years. The material would simply dry up.

Happily, the environment remains target-rich, and the writing is better than ever. I remain a fan. Am I slightly disheartened so many get their news from him exclusively? A little. But fake news abounds, and there’s a Matalin-Carville feeling of mutual respect in this circle. Fellow entertainer Glenn Beck is a Stewart fan, as none other than New York Magazine quotes:

Jon Stewart is very funny, and if I were in his position, I’d be doing a lot of the same things. In fact, a lot of the jokes I’ve heard before, either from my staff or myself,” Beck says by e-mail. “He takes things out of context (no worse than most of the other mainstream media) and is more interested in being funny than trying to actually understand the key messages in [my] show … But I don’t think he’s looking for a Pulitzer … People like Jon, his ratings are good. Good for him, keep doing what he’s doing. People seem to like watching my show as well, and hopefully that continues for both of us for a very long time.

Presumably, the feeling’s mutual, or why would Stewart (and less funny but equally sharp cohort Steven Colbert) wish to emulate Beck’s impulse to host D.C. get-togethers? If both Stewart and Colbert are tongue-in-cheek pundits but heartfelt lefties, could these rallies be mid-term calls for liberal mid-term enthusiasm? October 30th — being “a date of no significance whatsoever” — allows only 72 hours’ spin cycling.

The real fun will be the following week’s Daily Show coverage of the media’s coverage of this grand event. Now if this doesn’t restore sanity, I don’t… Okay, this won’t restore sanity.

Lies, damned lies and statistics (about TEDTalks): Sebastian Wernicke on TED.com

In a brilliantly tongue-in-cheek analysis, Sebastian Wernicke turns the tools of statistical analysis on TEDTalks, to come up with a metric for creating “the optimum TEDTalk” based on user ratings. How do you rate it? “Jaw-dropping”? “Unconvincing”? Or just plain “Funny”? (Recorded at TEDActive 2010, February 2010 in Palm Springs, CA. Duration: 5:59)